Social Listening Vs. Social Monitoring: What’s The Difference?

Have you ever wondered about the difference between social media monitoring and listening?

When we talk about social monitoring, we’re focusing on the “what” – understanding what’s being said about your brand. 

On the other hand, social listening is like tuning in to your audience’s favorite radio station. It’s about understanding the “why,” gaining a deep understanding of your audience, and refining your campaign strategy. 

So, when we delve into social listening, we’re exploring the “why” – the motivations and sentiments that drive the online discourse.

Monitoring tackles the symptoms, and listening dives deep to reveal the root causes.

However, the distinction between social listening vs. social monitoring isn’t always as clear-cut as this definition might suggest. These two strategies often overlap and work together.

In this article, we’ll dive into the intricacies, demystify the nuances, and shed light on the areas where social listening vs social monitoring meet and mingle. 

Understanding social listening

At its core, social listening is a strategic approach to monitoring and analyzing digital and online conversations on different social media platforms to get useful insights into customer sentiments, trends, and discussions related to a brand, industry, or specific topics. 

You need to gauge and analyze the overall sentiment of online conversations related to your brand. Understanding whether sentiments are positive, negative, or neutral can help you assess the public perception of your brand and make informed decisions to enhance customer satisfaction.

You’ll be able to come up with campaigns that get results and even use website feedback tools more effectively because you’ll better understand what your audience wants from you wherever you interact with them.

Spotify has nailed social listening with its @SpotifyCares account on Twitter. With this platform, the brand can answer questions, offer tips, and share feature updates with its audience.

Social listening provides insights into how your brand compares with competitors, identifies growth market trends, and uncovers opportunities to differentiate and improve.

Good social listening can positively affect how you run your campaigns. You can refine your marketing strategies by evaluating the success and impact of ongoing campaigns.

Methods used in social listening

There is quite a lot involved in good social listening. Let’s check out what it’s all about, starting with effective methods.

1. Keyword monitoring

  • Track specific keywords, hashtags, and phrases relevant to your brand, industry, or any related topic to uncover important conversations. 
  • Identify trends, monitor brand mentions, and understand audience sentiments associated with these keywords.

2. Sentiment analysis

  • Analyze the tone of online conversations to determine whether sentiments are positive, negative, or neutral. 
  • This type of analysis will make it easier to assess public perception, gauge customer satisfaction, and identify areas that may require attention or improvement.

3. Competitor analysis

  • Monitor and analyze online discussions related to your competitors to gain insights into their strategies, strengths, and weaknesses. 
  • Identify opportunities for differentiation, benchmark against competitors, and stay informed about industry trends.

4. Influencer tracking

  • Identify and monitor influencers and thought leaders in your industry or niche. 
  • As a result, you’ll understand the impact of influencers on audience perceptions, identify potential collaboration opportunities, and stay informed about industry thought leadership.

Tools used in social listening

Let’s look at some of the best tools for social listening.

1. Keyhole

Keyhole provides enterprise-grade social listening together with analytics to help you track your competitors’ critical activity, stay on top of the industry’s top trends, and never lose sight of what your customers are saying on social media. 

2. Hootsuite Insights

Hootsuite offers social listening capabilities, sentiment analysis, and trend monitoring to help businesses stay informed about online conversations.

3. Brandwatch

With Brandwatch you get a comprehensive social listening and analytics platform with real-time monitoring, sentiment analysis, and competitor benchmarking.

4. Sprout Social

As one of the most popular social listening tools, Sprout Social lets you combine social listening with engagement tools, allowing you to monitor conversations, analyze sentiments, and respond to audience interactions.

Benefits and applications in brand management

There are several advantages to using social listening tools to manage your brand.

1. Crisis management

Social listening tools play a crucial role in detecting potential crises early on, allowing you to respond swiftly and effectively to mitigate reputational damage. Additionally, integrating call center software can enhance this process by collecting and analyzing customers’ social media interactions and current emotions using AI.

This data provides real-time insights to agents, helping them handle customer calls more effectively during crises and ensuring a more personalized and informed response.

2. Content strategy optimization

Analyze discussions around relevant topics to inform content strategy, ensuring content resonates with the audience’s interests and preferences.

3. Campaign effectiveness evaluation

Assess the impact of marketing campaigns in real time, allowing for adjustments to optimize ongoing campaigns for maximum engagement and effectiveness.

Understanding social monitoring

Social monitoring is a proactive process of tracking and observing online conversations, mentions, and activities related to a brand, product, or industry across various social media platforms. 

It’s important to gather and analyze customer feedback, sentiments, and opinions expressed on social media. By monitoring sentiments, you can gauge customer satisfaction, address concerns promptly, and make data-driven improvements to products or services.

Monitoring industry trends can help you adapt to changing market dynamics, capitalize on opportunities, and align strategies with current industry discussions.

For example, you can use these insights to build chatbots that are tailored to resonate with your specific audience, providing a responsive and relevant customer interaction experience that reflects the current industry landscape.

Thus, social monitoring provides insights into the impact and effectiveness of various initiatives, guiding future marketing strategies.

Methods used in social listening

Fortunately, there are several methods and tools to make use of that will make social monitoring easy.

1. Brand mentions tracking

  • Directly track mentions of the brand name or product names across social media platforms. 
  • Assessing the frequency and sentiment of brand mentions to gauge overall brand visibility and sentiment.

2. Competitor analysis

  • Monitoring and analyzing the online presence and activities of competitors can greatly benefit your brand. 
  • Benchmarking against competitors, identifying areas for improvement, and staying informed about industry trends.

3. Sentiment analysis

  • Analyze the sentiment of social media mentions. 
  • Better understand the overall sentiment around the brand and identify areas that may require attention or response.

4. Audience demographics analysis

  • Get a grip on the demographics of your audience engaging with your brand on social media. 
  • Tailor content and marketing strategies to align with the characteristics of your target audience.

Tools used in social listening

1. Google Alerts

With Google Alerts, you can set up email notifications when specific keywords or phrases are mentioned online. Basic brand monitoring allows you to stay informed about online mentions.

2. Keyhole

This tool aggregates user-generated content from various platforms to provide a comprehensive overview. You can brand mentions and overall brand sentiment across the web.

3. Talkwalker

With Talkwalker, you’ll have access to real-time monitoring, sentiment analysis, and influencer tracking. Comprehensive brand monitoring with a focus on sentiment and industry influencers is great for social media marketing.

Benefits and applications in brand management

There are also quite a few advantages to social monitoring tools.

1. Crisis preparedness and response

Use social monitoring tools to detect potential crises early on, allowing for timely and effective responses to protect the brand’s image.

2. Competitive intelligence

Social monitoring tools let you track and analyze competitor activities, sentiments, and market trends for informed decision-making.

3. Campaign effectiveness evaluation

You can assess the impact of marketing campaigns in real-time, allowing for adjustments to optimize ongoing campaigns for maximum engagement and effectiveness.

Differences between social listening and social monitoring

Social listening and social monitoring are two essential components of a comprehensive social media strategy. While they share the common goal of tracking online activities, they differ in their focus, scope, and utilization

Focus: Past vs. real-time data analysis

Social monitoring

  • Focus: Primarily on past and present online activities.
  • Analysis:  Involves tracking brand mentions, keyword usage, and overall online presence.
  • Benefits: Helps you understand historical trends and track the impact of past campaigns or events.

Social listening

  • Focus: Primarily on real-time data analysis.
  • Analysis: Involves interpreting current conversations, sentiments, and emerging trends.
  • Benefits: Enables you to respond promptly to current issues, identify immediate opportunities, and stay relevant in the ever-changing social media landscape.

Scope: Audience insights vs. immediate engagement

Social monitoring

  • Scope: Emphasis on gathering data about your audience’s interactions with your brand.
  • Insights: Provides historical data on customer preferences, feedback, and overall sentiment.
  • Use case: Useful for understanding your audience’s perception over time and making informed decisions based on past interactions.

Social listening

  • Scope: Emphasis on gaining insights into audience behaviors, preferences, and emerging trends.
  • Insights: Offers real-time analysis to understand current sentiments, preferences, and discussions.
  • Use case: Valuable for immediate engagement, addressing customer concerns, and adapting strategies to meet current market demands.

Utilization: Strategic planning vs. tactical actions

Social monitoring

  • Utilization: Mainly for strategic planning.
  • Application: Informs long-term strategies, marketing campaigns, and overall brand positioning.
  • Outcome: Helps in shaping your brand’s image and long-term customer relationships.

Social listening

  • Utilization: Mainly for tactical actions.
  • Application: Supports quick decision-making, immediate responses to customer feedback, and adapting strategies on the fly.
  • Outcome: Enhances agility in responding to real-time market changes and customer sentiments.

The overlap between social listening and social monitoring

While social listening and social monitoring have distinct purposes, there is a significant overlap between the two practices.

Interconnectedness and collaboration

Data synergy

Social monitoring provides a foundational layer of historical data, while social listening adds real-time insights. 

By combining historical trends with current sentiments, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of audience behavior and preferences.

Holistic analysis

Social monitoring establishes a context, and social listening refines it with up-to-the-minute data. The collaboration ensures a more nuanced and holistic analysis, allowing you to make informed decisions that consider both past and present perspectives.

Feedback loop

Social monitoring identifies patterns and customer feedback over time, and social listening captures immediate reactions. Creating a feedback loop where historical insights inform real-time responses, and vice versa, helps in building stronger connections with your audience.

Leveraging both for social media management

If you want to create an effective social media campaign, you should definitely use social media listening as well as social media monitoring. A tool like Keyhole is ideal for easy and efficient integration.

The combination allows you to balance stability with adaptability, responding to immediate needs without losing sight of overarching goals. By seamlessly integrating both, you can proactively shape and protect your brand image, addressing both long-term and immediate concerns.

Choosing the right approach: When and how

In social media management, selecting the appropriate approach depends on the specific needs and goals of a business. 

Situational analysis

Social monitoring is ideal for assessing the overall health of your brand over time. It helps track brand mentions, sentiment trends, and the impact of past marketing efforts. 

To understand how you compare to competitors in terms of online presence, social monitoring provides valuable insights into competitor mentions and industry trends.

Social listening is crucial during crises or emergencies, as it provides immediate insights into customer sentiments and concerns. This enables you to respond promptly and effectively.

Social listening is also ideal for identifying emerging trends and staying ahead of industry shifts, ensuring that you remain relevant in a rapidly changing landscape. 

You’ll be able to create interesting, beautiful social media posts that actually resonate with your audience.

Complementing strategies

Combining social monitoring and social listening creates a balanced and comprehensive social media strategy.

Use insights from social monitoring to inform long-term strategies and insights from social listening for immediate actions, creating a continuous feedback loop.

Social monitoring aligns with long-term strategic planning, while social listening is tailored for short-term, tactical decision-making.

Tips for optimal implementation

Let’s look at how you can truly make the most of social listening and monitoring.

1. Define objectives clearly

Understand the objectives of your social media strategy, whether you are focused on long-term brand building or short-term crisis management.

2. Use tools effectively

Invest in and use social monitoring and listening tools that align with your goals and provide the necessary insights.

3. Establish protocols for action

Have clear protocols in place for how your team will respond to insights gained from monitoring and listening activities.

4. Regularly review and adjust

Regularly review the performance of your social media strategy, making adjustments as needed based on both historical and real-time data.

Harmony in social media management: Social monitoring vs. social listening

The nuanced interplay between social monitoring and social listening gives you a holistic toolkit for navigating the intricacies of the online marketing landscape. Social monitoring, with its focus on historical trends and brand health, lays the foundation for informed, long-term strategies. 

On the other hand, social listening, attuned to real-time conversations and emerging trends, properly equips you to swiftly respond to immediate opportunities or challenges. Explore both with Keyhole and make sure your social media management is taken care of.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the primary difference between social listening and social monitoring?

Social monitoring primarily involves tracking and observing online activities, mentions, and historical data related to a brand. In contrast, social listening goes beyond monitoring by analyzing real-time data, current sentiments, and emerging trends.

2. How do social listening and social monitoring complement each other?

Social listening and social monitoring complement each other by providing a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of a brand's online presence.

3. Which should you prioritize: Social listening or social monitoring?

If you want to understand historical trends, assess brand health over time, or conduct competitive analysis, prioritizing social monitoring is key. On the other hand, if the goal is to respond promptly to real-time events, manage crises, or stay abreast of current trends, social listening should take precedence.